What comes to mind when somebody says the word ‘Berkshire’? Likely the first thing you’ll think of is the town of Windsor and Windsor Castle. Perhaps Legoland or maybe even large towns such as Reading and Maidenhead. But what if I tell you there is a vast number of generous supporters connected with local charities through the Berkshire Community Foundation. The work these charities do transforms not only the lives of those they work with, but also the community around them.
On 16th May 2019, over 80 guests gathered together at the beautiful Ascot Racecourse for Berkshire Community Foundation’s Celebrating Impact: Showcase Event, an event celebrating the achievements and developments of local charities and projects. The groups were invited because of their strong focus and impact on those in need or who are disadvantaged.
Beginning with canapes and drinks, the evening transitioned to a small awards ceremony introduced by BBC Radio Berkshire Sports Presenter Ady Williams, and Chris Dodson OBE DL, Chair of Trustees at BCF, starting with a video showing BCF’s highlights over the past year. Each award winner was introduced through a similar videos with interviews from staff/volunteers and those they have helped. The six awards and winners were:
Lady Cathrine Stevenson DL presented the Mary Bayliss Award, which was named in honour and memory of Mary Bayliss, the president of BCF and former Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, who sadly passed in March 2019. The evening was brought to a close by Ady Williams and Chris Dodson.
It was an honour and privilege to attend BCF’s showcase event and to receive an award that celebrates the invaluable support and work from our staff, volunteers, supporters, and also our mentees.
It was a real privilege being invited to such a well put together and celebratory evening. Berkshire Community Foundation have been key in the success of Starting Point, not only in awarding grants but in their ongoing support and encouragement.
Sam Lloyd – Starting Point Manager
We look forward to working with BCF for many years to come.
Over 40 years ago, films entered a new era with the release of Star Wars, the epic space saga created by George Lucas. It’s a franchise known by everyone and adored by many. It has spawned countless famous characters and launched the careers of highly recognised and respected actors and actresses.
It also gives detailed looks into mentoring, teaching us things we may have known but could not picture in our heads. For example, Yoda’s line of “Do or do not, there is no try,” is used by both fans and mentors across the globe.
But this blog will be focusing on one specific character, that of Darth Vader, formally known as Anakin Skywalker, during Episodes 1 to 3 as he begins his journey of bad mentoring, lost love, and choosing which side he must fight for.
The Misguided Mentors
Let’s begin with the Jedi, a monk-like organisation of peace keepers which has existed for thousands of years. When we are introduced to them, the Jedi are seemingly negotiators with laser swords. They try not to engage in violence unless the situation calls for it. Due to their beliefs, the Jedi train themselves to become near emotionless, banishing romantic or family attachments because they are considered a path to the Dark Side.
In The Phantom Menace, we learn the Jedi’s archenemies the Sith have been considered extinct for a thousand years. This has caused the Jedi to become ignorant and blind, not believing they have returned without the Jedi knowing when one of their own delivers such news. They are quick to deny the suggestion until Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master fight a Sith and kill him. Even so, they are slow on the uptake, allowing members to abandon the Jedi Order and eventually join the Sith.
If our planet was looking for mentors, I would not recommend the Jedi. Mentors should bring out the best in their students, not brainwash them into compliance. How can a mentee succeed if everything they love gets removed or pushed away, if they aren’t given the chance to be themselves? The Jedi refused to adapt and held to an outdated way of thinking, which ultimately led to their downfall at the hands of the Sith.
The Rise of Darth Vader
The main plot line of the Prequel Trilogy is the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into the feared Darth Vader. In the Phantom Menace, Anakin lived nine years before meeting the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn on a seemingly random occasion. Freed from slavery but forced to leave his mother behind, Anakin was taken to the Jedi Temple for further testing. He passed the test, but the Jedi, especially Yoda, were fearful of training him because of his attachments to his mother. When Jinn was slain, Obi-Wan took Anakin as his apprentice.
In Attack of the Clones, Anakin is now nineteen and is becoming a rebellious and grouchy student. Anakin is too brash and hot-headed for Obi-Wan to train effectively, leading to defeat against the fallen Jedi, Count Dooku. Anakin and Padme enter a relationship and by the end of the film, are married in a secret ceremony. By doing this, Anakin has broken a strict rule of the Jedi. If they ever discovered his marriage, he would either be forced to abandon Padme or the Jedi Order.
In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin falls to the Dark Side. A combination of lack of faith in the Jedi, and empty promises of saving Padme from death, results in the birth of Darth Vader. The final push comes when Anakin chooses Padme over the Jedi and later dones the iconic black suit, helmet, and cape and accepts his new role, mourning the death of his wife in a terrifying rage of power.
Throughout Anakin’s story, it is apparent he feels frustration and disappointment about how the Jedi are treating him and teaching him. Mentors should never bring these feelings out of their mentees. If mentees do feel this way, then the mentor is not only failing them, but they are failing themselves too.
I could talk about Darth Vader’s entrance into the Star Wars universe for thousands more words, but we must keep it short, so I shall summarise.
In conclusion, Anakin Skywalker is a mentoring failure of epic proportions. Not only was the one mentor who should have trained him killed, he was passed onto an inexperienced mentor and entered an organisation that did not trust him or want him, ending in betrayal and death. You could say the evil Emperor Palpatine gave Anakin better mentoring than his official teachers. The Jedi too easily pushed Anakin’s concerns and emotions aside, trying to force him into their way of thinking.
Let me ask you some questions. What would you do if Anakin was your mentee? How would you teach him? What advice would you give? How would you stop him from becoming Darth Vader? I highly recommend researching Anakin Skywalker’s mentoring and those connected to it, even if you are not a Star Wars fan or haven’t watched a single movie.
Darth Vader is a story of how not to mentor and when mentoring fails. Not to say that all young people will become Darth Vader, but without the proper mentoring tailored for them, they could walk a path neither you nor they wish to see.
26th – Mock Interviews – We held mock interviews for 2 young people. This was an opportunity for them to develop their interview skills and grow in confidence. The feedback from these interviews is then worked on with their mentor.
Thank you to all involved in the activities above.
We’ll be back with another update in July, so stay tuned!
The Lion King is another movie that needs no introduction. Like Toy Story and Mary Poppins, it is a staple which holds together the childhoods of millions of people around the world. Based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Lion King has launched two sequels, a remake, and a hit Broadway and West End musical that is still going strong today. It is also a great film that focuses on mentoring the young and moulding them into future leaders.
Heir to the Throne
The protagonist of the film is Simba, a young lion cub born to the king and queen of the pride. Being a child, Simba is of course impatient, hyperactive, and is easily distracted. His father, Mufasa, teaches Simba about his future role, claiming that “everything the light touches in our kingdom” and that one day “the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.” When Simba inquires on a patch of shadowed land, Mufasa orders his son never to go there.
Naturally, Simba is excited about being king and believes it means he can do whatever he wants, though Zazu, Mufasa’s right-hand bird, tries to correct him. Simba also disobeys his father and ventures into the shadowy land, the Elephant Graveyard, earning him a strong ticking off from Mufasa afterwards.
Straight away, the film shows that although his elders are teaching him valuable lessons, Simba chooses to not listen to them, instead listening to his uncle, Scar. Easily manipulated, Simba places himself in dangerous situations that later lead to a very dramatic event.
A Life of Lies
Tricked by Scar into a gorge, Simba is faced with a stampede of wildebeests that ultimately ends in Mufasa dying after Scar betrayed him. Simba is traumatised by this and believes himself responsible, fleeing the pride lands, and getting found by Timon and Pumbaa, two best friends living in a jungle paradise and who teach him to let go of his worries. Unfortunately for him, Simba meets his childhood sweetheart Nala again and learns the tyranny Scar is imposing as king.
Although some might criticise how quickly Simba seemingly recovered from his father’s death, the fact he refuses to return and stop Scar shows how deep the event has effected him, damaging his mental state and is torn between doing what is right for him and right for the lion pride.
Simba is an echo of those who experience loss, especially at a young age. People will often chose to block out the harsh reality by throwing themselves into happier activities and distractions. However, not everyone can do this and fall into sadness and depression. It would be interesting to see what would have happened if Timon and Pumbaa hadn’t found Simba.
Long Live the King
With Rafiki the baboon’s assistance, Mufasa’s spirit comes to Simba, telling his son he has forgotten who he was and therefore forgetting his own father. Simba is more than who he currently is and must take his place as the rightful king. Simba is left now determined to face Scar, but he is also scared of his past. Rafiki offers some wise words; Simba can either run away from his past or learn from it.
This relates to many of us. All of us have made mistakes in the past, some bigger than others. They can be hard to accept, but learning from them can lead to success, because people learn from their mistakes, allowing them to become more confidence and intelligent. Simba’s mistake was that he fled, when he should have stayed.
Having learnt from his mistake, and with his new found courage and help of his friends, Simba topples Scar and claims the throne, leading the pride into a hopeful future and becomes a father, continuing the Circle of Life.
The Lion King is a film that has created not only wonderful mentors, but also a brilliant young person (or should that be animal?). Simba’s adventure from childhood prince to adult king captures the experiences many go through in their early years.
It teaches us to always listen to your elders (apart from evil lion uncles), to never give into your mistakes, learn from the past and use it for the future, and never forget who you are or where you come from. Too many people fail to confront these lessons and this sets them up for failure.
But if you choose to forgive yourself, be proud of who you are, and take the advice of others and heed their warnings, you can become a leader the likes of which Mufasa and Simba were and are.
Hello everyone. I’m Calum and you might remember me. I’m the one who pumps out all those blogs like the one you’re reading right now. I’m also a volunteer and mentee at Starting Point. I haven’t done a blog about myself since the launch of the new website, so I think it’s time for a little update.
Recently I wrote three blogs about Starting Point’s key values and have decided to conclude the small series with a finale from my own view and experiences. Without further ado, let’s get started.
If you don’t remember, Unlocking is the value of finding a young person’s potential and fulfilling it through tailored support.
It’s a common theme with me that I cannot see my own potential. Many people say I have it, from Sam the Project Manager, my two mentors, and even my driving instructor. They all say I have the potential to succeed, perhaps greatly, if I simply have confidence in myself. However, it’s hard to see something about yourself that everybody else can.
My personal experience with Unlocking has been more through finding my personality group and being given new opportunities such as writing blogs and articles that have truly allowed me to see that my potential is in writing and anything to do with the English language. My confidence has also risen, so maybe that can be part of Unlocking as well.
Enabling is the value of sustaining a positive change so a young person can achieve their goals.
As I mentioned them before, the blogs for Starting Point and other opportunities have enabled me to keep writing and share them with a wider audience. I have also had the chance to interview people, both inside and outside Starting Point, and they have been nothing but kind and supportive, exactly what a person with low confidence needs.
When I first came to Starting Point, I was very shy, negative, and lacked motivation. But because of the Enabling value, Starting Point has caused me to become more outgoing, take a more positive outlook on life, and has given me motivation because only through them have I finally decided what I want to do for a job/career. If that’s not sustaining, then I don’t know what is.
Releasing speaks for itself, but I’ll happily explain it again. It’s the value of releasing a young person from mentoring into a bright and happy future.
Unfortunately, I am still a mentee and therefore cannot talk a lot about Releasing, though I have experienced it is one way. I have recently changed mentors. You’re now perhaps thinking that I did something terribly wrong and my previous mentor no longer wanted to work with me. Well calm yourself because that’s not true at all.
I was released from one mentor to another because we all agreed the time had come to put our foot on the accelerator a bit more and change gear. If we’re talking about Releasing in terms of car gears, then Releasing is gear five, with gear four being employment.
Looking back over almost two years of mentoring, I can see how Starting Point has used the three values to help me along the way. I don’t think underestimating them is a possibility, especially when each one is tailored to each individual Starting Point helps.
There’s still a journey ahead, but I feel we might reach that final gear quicker than we thought, and when it does come, perhaps I will use those values for people I might one day train or mentor.
There isn’t a millennial alive that doesn’t know Toy Story. Not only did it capture the attention and imagination of millions of children, it provided valuable mentoring lessons that everybody must go through.
A Cowboy and a Spaceman
The series follows a host of different and unique characters, but it mostly focuses on two of them: Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Woody is introduced as a control freak and leader/mentor of the toys kept by Andy, the boy who plays with them and who Woody is devoted to making happy.
Buzz Lightyear, on the other hand, believes he is a space ranger completely and not a toy. He is also someone who likes to play the hero and quickly makes friends with his fellow toys. This makes Woody jealous because he feels his position as leader and Andy’s favourite is fading away.
Over the course of the films, it is Woody who learns more lessons than Buzz. He becomes more accepting to change and less judgemental, though his loyalty to Andy sometimes gets in the way of his development.
Time to Say Goodbye?
Woody is later stolen and at his kidnapper’s home, Woody meets Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete, all of whom are cowboy toys and have been waiting years for Woody to join them. It is here Woody discovers his origin, being the protagonist of an old black and white television programme called Woody’s Roundup. He also learns that his kidnapper is a collector and that all of the toys, including Woody, will be sold to a Japanese museum. Pete tells Woody that Andy will grow up soon. Isn’t it better to be somewhere where he can last forever and not worry about being forgotten?
Although tempted at first, Woody convinces them to return with him to Andy, though Stinky Pete ultimately tries to ensure they go to Japan. Back home, Woody tells Buzz his is no longer worried about Andy growing up and states that when the time does come, he will have his friends there to keep him company.
It finally happens years later and the toys are forced to say a sad farewell to Andy, though they are passed onto a girl named Bonnie who loves her toys and plays with them like Andy used to.
Pixar is brilliant at inserting adult themes into their movies. Each one has an underlying message and in Toy Story, it’s the fact everybody grows up and gets rid of their toys. This is brought to attention in the second and third films through Jessie and Lotso, the villian in Toy Story 3.
For Jessie, she was purposely abandoned by her owner, unable to come to terms with this fact. However, unlike Jessie, Lotso was accidentally left behind and upon returning to his owner, learns he was replaced. This changed him into an uncaring and tyrannical toy, choosing to make other toys’ lives a misery instead.
These two characters echo similarities that happen to young people throughout the world. Whether on purpose or by accident, they are left behind across various forms, such as education. Whilst many will become like Jessie, some will go down Lotso’s path and will turn to crime, especially if they have nowhere to go and think prison is a better choice.
Toy Story is a film series that rarely happens and is full of great mentoring knowledge and life lessons. It teaches us about how teamwork is vital for success, that leadership must sometimes be shared to create a better place, to accept others no matter their differences, the loyalty between friends, and above all else, how change doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Randy Newman’s famous song You’ve Got a Friend in Me could easily be the theme song for Starting Point, though I think Disney and Pixar would have something to say about it.
Watch the four films and you might pick up advice that could not only help you but others too. So take your mentoring (as Buzz Lightyear would say) to infinity and beyond!
Starting Point has three values that make up the core of the project. They are Unlocking, Enabling, and Releasing.
Eventually, the time comes where the birds must leave the nest. There is no telling when they will fly because people move at different speeds, but when they do, ensuring they have the best start possible is a must.
Releasing a young person from their mentoring with Starting Point can only be done after Unlocking and Enabling are completed. Without them finished, moving onto Releasing would not yield the best results and could hinder a young person’s potential future jobs and careers.
In some ways, Releasing is like school. Teachers teach you valuable knowledge that will help you reach future achievements, but schools cannot teach you forever. One day, the time comes when students will leave to forge the next chapter of their lives.
Stepping away from one thing into another can be scary. But there’s no reason to be if you can hit the ground running. That’s what Starting Point does, helping young people run and then letting them out the door into a bright new world.
The best part about Releasing is watching a young person go forward with confidence and courage, knowing they can see the opportunities available to them and can grab them.
Starting Point has three values that make up the core of the project. They are Unlocking, Enabling, and Releasing.
The definition of Enabling is to give someone the authority or means to do something. In the case of Starting Point and mentoring, Enabling means giving young people the chance to make and sustain positive change in their lives.
There is no guideline to how these changes are created. Everybody has a different view of what is positive. In terms of mentoring, even just small things that might seem insignificant to others can result in a massive positive change to those doing them.
For example, getting a young person with anxiety or low confidence to apply for jobs will be tough, especially if they have a negative outlook. Therefore, focusing on smaller things that build their confidence and to overcome their anxieties can change their negative views into positive ones.
To ensure these positive changes are made and kept, Starting Point can set up a variety of different opportunities. These can be activities such as simply giving young people the chance to talk to someone, setting up voluntary roles which give experience, and mock interviews to allow young people to practise and improve their interview skills.
Through Enabling, Starting Point and mentoring can help make positive differences not only to job/career aspirations, but also to mental health, self-belief and more.
Starting Point has three values that make up the core of the project. They are Unlocking, Enabling, and Releasing.
Unlocking, the focus of this blog, means that every young person has potential that can be unlocked and fulfilled. The methods of unlocking potential can be different for every mentor and mentee. These methods could include things such as playing to a mentee’s strengths or developing areas they can grow in.
Many young people have talents that they know nothing about. Starting Point and its mentors help young people find and unlock their talent through tailored support, meaning it is different for every mentee depending on what support they need.
Support from Starting Point could be simple things such as throwing leadership roles onto mentees, putting them in new situations they have never tried before. Often, young people only need to be shown they have potential for them to see it.
Starting Point also helps build on a young person’s potential. For example, if someone is very good at communication, Starting Point will support them in using that potential to further their future careers. Even a simple thing like writing blogs could lead to a job offer.
Ever seen the movie Sister Act? The choir all have potential to be beautiful singers, but only when somebody comes along and brings out that potential do they suddenly become confident and successful.
The first step on any journey of transformation is identifying potential, unlocking and nurturing it, and then seeing it fulfilled. Doing this can take time, but it will be a step taken towards a bright and more hopeful future.